It’s time for back to school this week on the Kenai Peninsula. And by that I mean that think goodness it’s time for the kids to go back to school on Tuesday, because if they’re home on break much longer, something is going to give.
Don’t get me wrong, my children are wonderful kids. They can be thoughtful, fun, engaging, considerate — all those wonderful qualities we strive to encourage in our youth. At 9 and 11 years old, they are growing up fast, and maturing into amazing people.
Then again, they are 9 and 11, which also means they are healthy and rambunctious, kind of like our black Lab. After a summer away from the structure of a classroom, well, they’re starting to drive us a little bonkers.
Of course, the situation has been made a little more stressful because we’ve been living on top of each other all summer. We’re remodeling the upstairs of our split-level home — kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room — which means we’ve crammed ourselves into two bedrooms and a family room downstairs. We’ve made do, cooking meals on the barbecue or in the microwave and sharing a bathroom that also has to serve as the kitchen sink.
But it also means that on certain occasions, when the kids really need to go into another room, there isn’t another room for them to go into. And that’s when the antagonizing begins.
We’ve done our best to keep the kids active throughout the summer. They take karate a few nights a week. We mountain bike at Tsalteshi, and sneak in hikes when we can. They each went away to summer camp for a week, and my daughter took part in one of the day camps at the wildlife refuge. We limit their TV and video game time, and encourage reading (not a problem, as both kids, my son in particular, are bookworms). We give them chores to do, like mowing the lawn and walking the dogs.
But we’re just about out of ideas.
The kids’ latest trick to drive us nuts is their version of “say uncle.” I’m not sure where they picked this up, but they both seem to enjoy it a little too much — thus the shrieking of children that echoes through the neighborhood, which is usually followed by the shrieking of adults echoing through the house.
My son seems to have picked up a bit of a sarcastic sense of humor (I’ve got no one to blame for that but myself), but has yet to develop the internal filter to know when it’s appropriate.
For example, during our recent trip to visit family on the East Coast, we played a round of golf together on a nine-hole, par-3 golf course. He was striking the ball well — better than me, on some occasions, but on one of the somewhat longer holes, I told him he could tee off even though people were still on the green, because he wouldn’t hit it that far.
“Way to build my self-confidence, Dad. What’s that going to do for my morale?” came the response — very funny.
On the other hand, he has developed a habit of responding to every statement made with some variation of the phrase “Or is it?”, which got old really fast. It’s not the response we want to hear when we tell him it’s time for dinner, or that he needs to put something away.
Meanwhile, my daughter has developed a habit of constant hugging. It certainly can be sweet, but they’re clingy hugs, and not something I need when I’m doing something like carrying a heavy load of building supplies. I’m worried that I’m going to squash her one of these days — or fall down the stairs trying to avoid doing just that. I think I trip over her more than I trip over our pug, whose reason for being is to be under foot.
But as I said, thankfully, school starts Tuesday. I’m sure that with getting back into the routine, my children will return to being their usual wonderful, well behaved selves. And if not, parent-teacher conferences will be here before we know it.
Clarion editor Will Morrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.